Summer is finally here and while most performing arts camps take place in the big city, camp director Joseph Baker opted for a more traditional camp setting.
Broadway in the Mountains is a performing arts intensive located in the Catskill Mountains where performers ages 10-16 can hone their craft with guest artists from the Broadway community while also participating in the quintessential summer camp activities such as camp cookouts, outdoor games, and more. There’s still time to register your child for this year’s camp taking place July 9-22, 2017, which culminates in a showcase for industry pros as well as friends and family. We spoke with Joseph Baker to learn more about the program.
How did your interest in performing arts begin?
My interest started as a young musician and ended up on Broadway conducting and music directing several shows. But it was when I started working with kids that I felt even more fulfilled. One of the reasons I started Broadway Youth Ensemble (www.broadwayyouthensemble.com). And I love teaching!
How did the idea for Broadway in the Mountains come about?
I was approached by the founders of Music in the Mountains; a chamber music program that was located on the grounds of the Catskill Foundation for the Arts.
It was so enchanting a place, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to start one in such a beautiful area! And the facilities are so wonderful there; it feels like a college dorm/performance areas rather than a typical camp! (think air conditioning, modern facilities, etc.) I immediately reached out to teachers of Professional Kids and experts to make the process complete.
What is the process like to create a performing arts company or camp for youth?
Well, last year was our first year. Boy, did we learn a lot!! But we all work very well together; and if the child is motivated, we have setup a very unique one-on-one environment where each student gets a lot of individual attention; far more than in most camps! And everybody helps with each other. It was beyond our best expectations!
Talk about the staff and guest teachers involved this summer?
Well, our faculty, guest artists and staff all have extensive experience in the theatre.
I have conducted and played in over 7 different Broadway shows, and have several kids I’ve coached on Broadway and Tours, etc. Likewise, Amelia Demayo, Chris York, and Janine Molinari have been the driving force behind many kid careers for decades. Our scheduled guest artists are composers, coaches, lead actors from the Broadway world. Our staff/counselors are former professional kids; so they really understand the territory! Everyone is dedicated to having every kid continue to develop to their full potential. It’s very rewarding, and fun too!
How do you create a non-competitive environment?
That’s a really good question! I think the first part is that since we give them more individual attention, no one feels passed over or put out of the loop. I have a unique approach to the psychology of performing that works wonders relaxing kids who are nervous or competitive. And if last year was any indication, it all worked beautifully!
How can campers get involved?
Since the camp size is quite small (less than 30) we can do things that other camps can’t… campers can definitely have a voice in what they do over the course of our 2 weeks. They get technique and training the first week. Then they get involved with a showcase in week 2 where they have tons of input! Certainly no complaints yet 😉
What do you hope campers take away from this experience?
I hope they come away with the following:
1) more intensive training as a performer, with more technique/audition tools under their belt.
2) A better sense of how to handle nervousness, stage fright, and tough situations that might come up in the professional world
3) As we had last year, a sense that they are part of a special community of people who can bring good will into the world through their special gifts.
4) That anything can happen if you let it! (and work for it). (pardon the quote from Mary Poppins!)